Political Editors / September 6, 2016

Merkel Takes a Beating, but Doubles Down

Recent elections show Germans are turning on the chancellor over migration.

This past week German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), took an election beating in her own home district. Her party came in third behind the upstart far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and the leftwing Social Democratic Party. AfD, founded just over three years ago, credits its rapid rise in popularity to many Germans’ deep dissatisfaction with Merkel’s immigration policy. In an interview, AfD leader Frauke Petry said, “We see that in many regions of Germany where the CDU [is based], the party bases don’t agree with Merkel’s policy anymore. We want the German government to close the German border to illegal migration. … We need controlled borders.”

It’s not just a cultural or national security problem. The massive influx of migrants has also put quite a strain not only on Germans’ patience but upon their pocket books. The welfare costs associated with caring for the migrant population have more than doubled from last year’s total. The current cost of supporting asylum seekers is estimated to be €5.27 billion, up from €2.4 billion last year, but this cost will only continue to balloon as more benefits are guaranteed to refugees as they are further assimilated into welfare programs.

Upon learning of the recent election outcome, Merkel remained unmoved. She did, however, acknowledge that “many people do not have our confidence regarding the refugee question.” But she continued to double down insisting that her migration policy was the right move for Germany and Europe. The problem with elites like Merkel is that they aren’t playing with their own money, but with other people’s. It’s easy to look generous when you’re not the one actually paying for what you’re offering.

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